One Person Making a Difference One At A Time – Working with 911 Dispatchers
911 dispatchers are a unique group, for they are the first responders. They are the first ones to connect with the individuals or groups with an emergency need. They must take the information, figure out the need and then relay that information to the proper responders with the correct location in seconds.
There is no room for error for they are dealing with life and death situations. Like the military and their special operations individuals; they are a challenging group to gain entry into.
With the development of CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) procedure and CISM teams working with the various responder groups, the value of this to the members was being recognized. Unfortunately the dispatchers we’re not included in these groups because they were not at the scene of the incident and it was felt that they were not affected by the event.
A number of years ago, I was called in to help with a crisis that had occurred within the northern zone of the Pittsburgh call center. On the northern zone’s weekend off, the team’s group leader/mentor and his wife were killed in a tragic car crash. The crew members were unaware of the incident until reporting to work. The whole crew was impacted by the event and unable to safely work on the screens.
The Chief Administrative Officer for Allegheny County requested immediate help from Pittsburgh’s CISM team. I was available and I went in to assess the need and give them what I was trained in regarding crisis intervention.
I was able to educate them with regard to the possible effects of a critical incident but I also became aware that more was needed, to possibly find immediate relief. I made the choice to integrate TFT into the crisis intervention work. I was able to (more…)